DIBIASE: Predicting the NFL draft and team’s needs

Justin Dibiase

With flowers blooming and birds chirping, the signs in nature point to one thing: the NFL Draft. The draft, which is also a beacon of hope for the end of the year for us students, is the perfect chance for teams to fill their holes with fresh, young rookies. This year’s draft class has a little bit of everything: big, strong linemen; a running back sure to be a star; and a few quarterbacks who will certainly make noise in the NFL. While the teams with picks early in the first round choose from the top of the heap, several teams will be looking to trade up to get “their guy.” Let’s take a look at how the first 10 picks could shake up.

1) Miami Dolphins: Who They’ll Take: Jake Long, OT, Michigan. Long is as safe a pick as you can get. At 310-plus pounds, Long proved his athleticism with good workouts at the combine. What They Really Need: After squeaking out one win last season, there is a lot of housekeeping that needs to be done to this roster. BC quarterback Matt Ryan would be a much better fit than John Beck, but in the end, it’s up to Bill Parcells.

2) St. Louis Rams: Who They’ll Take: Glenn Dorsey DT, LSU. Dorsey will shore up the leaky St. Louis run defense. St. Louis is crossing their fingers that Dorsey will stay healthy. What They Really Need: Offensive line help. Minus the recovering Orlando Pace, running back Steven Jackson doesn’t have many hole-creators in front of him. If Long falls to the second pick, expect the Rams to grab him.

3) Atlanta Falcons: Who They’ll Take: Matt Ryan, QB, Boston College. Ryan will be ready to take the starting job under center from day one at training camp. Here’s to hoping he doesn’t have an unexplainable infatuation with dogs. What They Really Need: They really need Ryan, but had Michael Vick not been sitting in jail, Arkansas running back Darren McFadden would be the perfect fit here.

4) Oakland Raiders: Who They’ll Take: Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas. Al Davis will be drooling when the Heisman Trophy runner-up falls to Oakland at the four spot. A tandem of McFadden and quarterback JaMarcus Russell will be the spark that this floundering franchise needs. What They Really Need: Running back is not their most pressing need, but McFadden will probably go here. They could really use some help on both lines. Virginia defensive end Chris Long would be addressing an immediate need for Oakland.

5) Kansas City Chiefs: Who They’ll Take: Chris Long, DE, Virginia. Long is projected as the top pick in several mock drafts. So, the Chiefs will be thrilled to get a valued pass rusher like Long at this spot. What They Really Need: The Chiefs really would like the other top five Long, Jake. Offensive tackle is an obvious need for a team that finished dead last in rushing.

6) New York Jets: Who They’ll Take: Vernon Gholston, DE, Ohio State. The Jets like this Buckeye at No. 6. After breaking State’s single-season sacks record, Gholston is an obvious fit for the Jets. What They Really Need: They really need Gholston, but some secondary and wide receiver help wouldn’t hurt either.

7) New England Patriots: Who They’ll Take: Leodis McKelvin, CB, Troy. After losing Asante Samuel to Philadelphia, McKelvin would be asked to fill in immediately. His dynamic speed also makes him a punt retuning possibility for Bill Belichick. What They Really Need: The Pats would like a linebacker here, but McKelvin’s value overshadows the need.

8) Baltimore Ravens: Who They’ll Take: Ryan Clady, OT, Boise State. At 6-feet-6-inches and 320 pounds, Clady has all the makings to become a staple in the trenches for Baltimore. If Atlanta does not select Ryan at No. 3, the Ravens will have an interesting predicament at No. 8. What They Really Need: A quarterback. However, if Ryan is off the board at No. 8, the Ravens should not and will not go fishing for Louisville’s Brian Brohm. A trade-down situation is possible here for Baltimore.

9) Cincinnati Bengals: Who They’ll Take: Sedrick Ellis, DT, USC. After Marvin Lewis’s defense finished dead last in sacks a year ago, Ellis would be a welcome addition to the Bengals’ weak defense. Ellis is a bit undersized, but he makes up for it with his incredible work ethic. What They Really Need: This draft will mainly be dedicated to fixing up the line on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. After Ellis, his Southern California teammate linebacker Keith Rivers is the next logical choice.

10) New Orleans Saints: Who They’ll Take: Keith Rivers, LB, USC. The Saints need help badly on defense, and Rivers is a natural born leader at linebacker. He has adequate size and above average athleticism for an NFL linebacker. What They Really Need: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. If you haven’t heard about this cornerback from 1-AA Tennessee State, you soon will. He has good height for a corner and is one of the fastest players in the draft. The Saints allowed a gaudy 32 passing touchdowns; so help in the form of Rodgers-Cromartie in their secondary is certainly needed.


Justin DiBiase is a junior civil engineering major from Franklinville, N.J. He can be reached at [email protected].